Empowerment is key to Customer Delight

Put yourself in the shoes of a seven year old child and picture this — it’s Christmas and you just spent your Christmas money on the action figures you had always wanted! All set to wow your friends, you put your favourite superhero, Jay ZX, in your jacket and trot out, face pink with excitement.

Five minutes later, you find that your pockets are lighter. You desperately rummage in them, but all your fingers find are the inner linings. Jay ZX is gone.

Heartbroken, you write to Lego, requesting another Jay ZX and promising, in your childish innocence, to take “extra-special care” of it.

On another day at another company, your letter would have found its way into a wastebasket. Not at Lego, though. Not only do you get an even better Jay ZX, the kind customer service representative also packs in a free baddie for Jay to fight!

In this real-life example, the awesome customer-service representative achieved two great things in one fell swoop — he made a distraught child’s Christmas and, along the way, earned some great publicity for Lego; his heart-warming letter made the newspapers and went viral on social media.

Read the original story here.

Employee empowerment works wonders, and here’s our take on why.

The power of empowerment

Within everybody — your employees included — lies a drive for excellence. The men and women who work for you want to be the best employees they can be, because doing well at work lets them draw a sense of self-worth from their jobs.

But for your employees to be, as Robin Sharma puts it, “the Bono of selling staplers” or similar, they must be able to act fearlessly, without the Damocles’ sword of reprimand or worse hanging above their heads. They should feelempowered to bring their A-game to work and go beyond their call of duty to truly distinguish themselves. Give them the autonomy to think on their feet and do the best job they can, abstain from micromanagement and let your employees bring creativity and innovation to work.

Empowered employees work for more than a paycheck. They are at the very tip of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, working to do the best job they can. Imbued with a sense of ownership, they take pride in being the best professionals they can be, and see the organization’s achievements as their own.

In the story at the beginning of this article, the customer service representative at Lego felt empowered enough to send the crestfallen child a kind letter and free toys. With this act, he managed to create an immense amount of goodwill for Lego on social and traditional media, and also forge an emotional connect between the brand and the child’s family.

To an employee who feels empowered, the organization offers a stage upon which he can act out his best performance every day.

The path to empowerment

There certainly isn’t a dearth of articles on employee empowerment. Every HR professional worth his salt has a take on it. However, much of the content out there is exasperatingly verbose and complex. Allow us to cut to the chase and make it as easy as 3 simple points:

  1. Trust: Nobody likes to be micromanaged — your employees included. Having worked for some time now, they probably have great ideas to delight your customers. How about letting them try out these ideas for what they’re worth?
  2. Training and Skills: If your employees aren’t exactly rockstars at customer service, it’s probably because they aren’t trained to be so. Teach your new hires (and experienced employees) that customer delight is the Holy Grail they should seek every day, and encourage them to think out-of-the box and go that extra mile.
  3. Policy: Ensure that your policies are aligned to ensure nothing short of customer delight. Now, teach your employees that it’s okay to put the occasional toe across the line for the sake of thrilling a customer with awesome service.

If there’s a common thread that runs through the likes of Ritz Carlton, JetBlue, Starbucks and other truly customer-centric companies, it’s employee empowerment. An employee motivated to do the best job he can is certain to make your customers as happy as they can be. Bring about a culture of trust, responsibility and courage and you will be ahead of your competition by a country mile.

Here’s another more recent story that went viral about a Groupon employee taking charge of the situation and dealing with it in an amazingly witty way.

Also, check out our Brands that Delight story about an Empowered Employee at Toni & Guy.

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